Jennifer Martelli

TW: mention of rape

A Brown Wren Perched in a Laurel Tree


After He raped you, God

turned you into a brown bear

when all you really wanted was a pair of gladiator sandals.

Made your son a hunter who took aim at your sacred heart.

Then He stuck him up in the sky, stuck you up too

on the black velvet so now you rotate

with the seasons on a big silver wheel.


God came out of the corner of the room clutching something

purple in His fist and now

you’ll never finish that book

after breakfast.


He gave you a stained sweaty shroud, turned

you into a chalice.


God came down as a golden rain,

seeped into a locked box.


But maybe you are fleet.

Maybe you can outrun God

but I think you’ll run right into rivers or the thick sides


of bulls. God swallowed His daughter.

God left the cup alone, unmoved, would not let it pass.

God forsook.

God rolled a huge boulder away from the black mouth

of a tomb, after the fact.


God tried to rape a woman and she became a laurel tree

slowly: last to be sealed up shut were her eyes. Her hair


tangled in shiny leaves and branches (woven into crowns)

and a brown wren perched. Blink once

if this is what you want. Her sisters and brothers wept

wrapped themselves around and across her rough trunk.

Once means yes, twice no.



Jennifer Martelli’s debut poetry collection, The Uncanny Valley, was published in 2016 by Big Table Publishing Company. She is also the author of the chapbook, Apostrophe and the chapbook, After Bird, forthcoming from Grey Book Press. Her work has appeared in Thrush, [Pank], The Baltimore Review, The Heavy Feather Review, and The Pittsburgh Poetry Review. Jennifer Martelli has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes and is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry. She is a book reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as a co-curator for The Mom Egg VOX Blog Folio.





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